Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 28 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
Neo-figurative artist Ruben Ubiera has been drawing and painting ever since he had the "use of reason."
The Santo Domingo native's work characterized by strong lines is considered pop-surrealism, though he prefers "urban-pop.". His love of all things urban stems from his geographical experience and his interest in man's interaction with his environment. Part of his experience is moving to the Bronx with his family at the age of 15.
Graffiti took up a space in his subconscious and manifested itself years later. Says Ubiera, "I paint what I see, what surrounds me. My work is driven by my childhood memories, experiences, and my ecosystem. The most everyday and mundane actions captured in a new light, frozen in time by an outsider."
Passion runs deep in this twice-removed Dominican. "I thrive in times of despair. Through personal experiences, I have found out that in the darkest moment is the exact time to panic, but also the time to rise to the occasion. I plan my moves, set goals, and don't deviate my eyes from the mission, the task at hand, no matter how big or small. Long ago, I came to South Florida without a penny in my pocket. Slept on a pool air mattress which I had to blow up with a blow dryer before it was time to go to sleep, and found flat by 3 a.m. -- every night -- and decided I was going to be one of the best artists in South Florida. My goal then was, and still is, to inspire. I have plans to set a platform that will open doors for more artists that possess the abilities to create transcending work, but not enough channels or funds to create and communicate their message and ideas. I need to make new generations realize that they have what it takes, and perseverance, no matter how cliché it may be, still pays in the end."
In first grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a dinosaur, a motorbike, or an artist. I was a kid, what do you want from me?
Favorite thing about Miami art scene?
The people, of course. Even the mojitos are imitated by others outside of Florida, but the people, they are a unique blend.
Name your three favorite dead artists.
Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier... Taki 183, maybe? Whichever caveman made the first hand-print mark on a cave wall. Imagine the rawkus!
Favorite local artist?
This is like asking which is your favorite movie, or dessert. This is a hard tricky question, since I don't have a favorite "ART STYLE" per say, but I don't have anything like what Johnny Robles is doing. I dig his calm, thoughtful art. Dark and mysterious, yet very beautiful and inspiring. I told him he's the "Pink Floyd" of contemporary visual art. I guess most of my colleagues, for one reason or the other. I try to surround myself by people I admire. I try to learn something from everything and everyone. Art is not always just about art.
If you could live with any one artist, living or dead, for one year, who would it be?
Anyone during the Renaissance; I just find it intriguing. A cultural movement that lasted centuries, with art in the forefront. An era in which arts were seen in some ways as one of the highest forms of divinity. Movable type was invented; the cultural possibilities were endless. Then again, so was racism and the Middle Ages craziness... I wonder if I would be able to get out of slavery by showing creativity -- where would we be today?
Or chill for a year with Mr. Pablo Picasso. He was nuts. Probably bomb graffiti up and down Europe. And again... where would we be today?
Follow Ubiera on Facebook.
2013 Mastermind Award Honorable Mentions:
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.